Local Business Tips: How To Drive More Footfall With Online Advertising
Brick-and-mortar retail isn’t dead, but it’s inarguably suffered at the hands of ecommerce over the last decade.
The sheer convenience of staying at home and getting everything delivered turned Amazon into a global juggernaut and saw high streets shops everywhere shuttering their windows and conceding the fight.
Despite this, it’s wholly unfair to view online shopping as the enemy of traditional retail. It’s simply a rival, setting benchmarks for performance and appeal that retailers must strive to match. And the internet isn’t simply a threat — it’s also a provider of opportunity.
If you run a local business and you’re hoping to see an upturn in your fortunes this festive season, something you need to seriously consider is running some online advertising. If you go about it correctly, it can prove extremely effectively at bringing in fresh customers. Here are some tips for how you can use online advertising (chiefly through Google Ads because of Google’s importance for mobile search) to drive more footfall:
Target locally-relevant terms
Depending on the approach you take, online advertising can be distributed automatically (through the platform analysing the content and placing it accordingly) or in response to particular keywords and parameters. Going down the latter route is trickier, but it gives you vastly more control over the results.
When choosing keywords for your ads, though, don’t just think about terms that are relevant in general (for instance, targeting “tablets” and “smartphones” if you sell mobile electronics) — if you do that, you’ll find yourself competing with Amazon-style retailers, and that’s a battle you simply can’t win.
Instead, think about terms that are locally relevant: most notably, slang terms, unusual constructions, and place names. Most businesses cast wide nets to catch as many people as possible, and you can take the opposite approach. Searches featuring slang terms or place names won’t be as frequent, but when they happen you’ll be more likely to have your ads selected (and earn some relevant traffic).
Use appropriate extensions
Having your ads showing up consistently won’t push footfall unless you get your content right, though — your ad copy needs to be built around encouraging people to visit your business in person. To do this, you should start with picking the right extensions in Google Ads, including (at a minimum) location extensions.
To configure your location extensions, you’ll need your business logged in Google My Business (this is vital for showing up on Google Maps, so get it done if you haven’t yet). It’s then just a matter of selecting the appropriate options in Google Ads. By having your business address show up in your ads, you’ll stand a much better chance of appearing in local searches.
You should also think about other extensions, such as those listing specific advantages or review data. It can be useful to provide a phone number, but whether you’ll want to will depend on your exact situation — you may find that giving out a phone number actually reduces footfall through removing the need for people to visit your location.
Emphasise your local ties
In addition to appearing for locally-relevant searches, you can stand out through making reference to your local ties in your ad copy. How long has your business served the same area? Do you have local roots? What broader role (if any) do you play in the community? People like to support local businesses (when it’s not hugely inconvenient, at least), so give them reason to want to buy from you or work with you.
If your business serves Norfolk, for example, then you could include something like “Proudly serving Norfolk since [year]”. You shouldn’t go overboard with it, naturally — don’t stretch the truth to position your business as some kind of local institution if that isn’t the truth — but you can be somewhat creative with your branding.
Do you have your location in your business name and in your domain name? If not, think about making some changes if you’re really committed to winning more local traffic. Remember that your advertising needn’t simply be about noting the past and present of your business: it can also be about defining the future of your business. Start representing it in a certain way and your brand perception will start to change.
Provide on-premise incentives
It’s possible to target all the right terms, frame your ads correctly, provide a compelling local message, but still not see an uptick in footfall. When this happens, it strongly indicates one thing: that the convenience of online business is more powerful than the traditional appeal of your store (or business location).
This is a tough obstacle to overcome, and the only way to do it is to offer something at your location that people can’t get over the internet. You can provide price reductions to some extent (10% off for anyone who buys in-store) but this may not be a strong tactic in the long run — if you keep doing it, it will damage your profits, and as soon as you stop, people will go back to handling things online.
I suggest going for something experiential. There are certain things that can’t be provided online: product tests, demonstrations, engaging atmospheres, in-person discussions. How can you turn your location into a place prospective customers will want to visit? Could you create a VR setup? Host events? Offer product samples? Whatever you can do, make it the core of your online advertising: if it’s appealing enough, it will push people to your location in droves.
Footfall is vitally important for any customer-facing business that maintains physical premises, because the related expenses aren’t justified without it. Today, attracting footfall is all about finding the right people at the right times and offering something compelling to bring people in. Follow these suggestions to optimise your local ads and get people talking.
Article By Kayleigh Alexandra
Header Image Credit: Joe The Goat Farmer